Cardiff Blues' George Earle banned for 8 weeks for eye gouging

Cardiff Blues lock George Earle has been banned for eight weeks following his sending-off in their European Challenge Cup defeat against Bath.

Earle was sent off by referee Alexandre Ruiz for eye gouging in a maul in the second half of their 38-3 loss last week.

The 29-year-old South African pleaded not guilty, but an independent disciplinary panel ruled against him, although it deemed the offence was at the low end of World Rugby's sanctions.

The panel also took into account Earle's clean disciplinary record and the fact he apologised to Tom Ellis, the Bath player involved, after the match.

The ban will begin with Cardiff's Guinness PRO12 home clash with Newport Gwent Dragons on Boxing Day.

Earle, who can appeal the decision, will be free to play on Feb. 13.